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Brian Beagley: Life Profile

Brian Beagley, doing a vacation job as a Schoolboy in the mid 1950’s, was offered an engineering job, mentored by John Pinkerton at the LEO manufacturing sites and contributed to the work being carried out.  He carries a lifetime memory of those days. 

From Brian: Born in December in 1936 in Kensington, West London. Grew up during WW2 in Fulham. Attended St John’s School, Dawes Road and the Sunday School at the Congregational Church next door. The Church was blitzed by Nazi bombing. Thereafter attended Hammersmith Broadway Congregational Church. Completed primary education at St John’s, age 11. In 1948, won a Governor’s Scholarship to Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, eventually specialising in science. In 1954/55 Brian spent his school vacations working for LEO Computers Ltd. Won a State Scholarship in 1955/56.in Chemistry, Physics and both Pure and Applied Mathematics. Accepted as a student in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham. Graduated with a BSc in 1959. Married Janet May Dowling on 19th September 1959 in Hammersmith Broadway Congregational Church. Completed PhD studies on Determination of Crystal Structures by Xray Diffraction Methods (XRD). On receiving his PhD in 1962, he was made a DSIR/NATO Fellow 1962-1964. He was headhunted in 1963 by Professor Durward Cruickshank who was interested, not only in his PhD research, but also in Brian’s pre-University experience, gained working on the building of the LEO II computer.  

Brian (as a NATO Fellow) and Janet moved to Oslo, Norway, in autumn 1963. Brian joined Professor Otto Bastiansen’s Gas Phase Electron Diffraction (GED) Group at the University of Oslo. Returning to the UK in 1964, they moved to Kirkintilloch near Glasgow where Brian joined the academic staff in the Chemistry Department of the University, working for Professor Cruickshank. Brian and Janet had two children together, Sarah Helen Beagley, 30th August 1964 in London, and Philip Edwin Dowling Beagley, 12th July 1967 in Glasgow. Cruickshank moved to UMIST in 1967. Brian and Janet followed him to Manchester in 1967 and settled in Romiley, Stockport. Brian continued his work with Cruickshank in the Chemistry Department at UMIST and in canal restoration (see below). Janet took up employment in Child Care in Stockport. At UMIST, Brian progressed from Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer then to Reader, retiring in 1996.

Community Service
1960-1963: Brian and Janet worked alongside David Hutchings as volunteers during the restoration of the Southern Stratford Canal and whilst David Hutchings was the Chairman of the (then) Midlands Branch of the Inland Waterways Association.

1967-1974: Brian and Janet returned from Norway and Glasgow to Manchester, Brian was appointed Chairman of the Peak Forest Canal Society in 1970. He led the campaign tor the reopening of the Cheshire Canal Ring, which involved spearheading the argument to persuade the authorities to restore the Peak Forest and Ashton Canals. These canals were restored and reopened in 1974. During this period, public awareness of the importance of canals as a valuable heritage was realised and much modern town-planning thereafter (e.g. in Birmingham) took account of canals as an open space (“lung”) within the metropolis of a town centre (e.g. London, Manchester).

Author profile during Brian’s scientific career
Brian Beagley BSc, PhD, DSc, FRSC, MInstP, CChem, CPhys
Retired Reader in Chemistry, UMIST 
He completed his PhD in X-ray Crystallography with R W H Small in 1962 at the University of Birmingham using the methods pioneered by Durward Cruickshank enabling analysis of the anisotropic motion of atoms in crystals. He was recruited by Cruickshank in 1963 to assist him in the gas-phase electron diffraction (GED) project to be set up upon Cruickshank’s move to the University of Glasgow. To this end, taking up a DSIR/NATO research fellowship, he spent 1963-1964 at the University of Oslo where he learnt their GED techniques under Professor O Bastiansen. In 1964 he joined the lecturing staff at Glasgow and took on responsibility for the GED laboratory, including structure determinations in the gas phase using the new GED equipment acquired by Cruickshank. He moved with Cruickshank to UMIST in 1967 setting up the GED equipment to provide a cross-UK GED service, which he continued to manage until Cruickshank retired in 1983. He was awarded his DSc by the University of Birmingham in 1981 and promoted to Reader in Chemistry at UMIST. He became leader of the Chemistry X-ray Diffraction group. He also did research in EXAFS spectroscopy using the Synchrotron Radiation Source at Daresbury Laboratory. He was a founder member of the British Crystallographic Association. His bibliography extends to some 160 publications on structural chemistry. He retired in 1996. [This paragraph was used in the biography of Durward Cruickshank for the Royal Society, which Brian co-authored with John R Helliwell in 2018 . Biogr. Mems Fell. R. Soc. 65, 71-87(2018) ]

Photo taken in the 1990s in a laboratory in Manchester University.

Date : April 2022

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH68700. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Brian Beagley: Life Profile

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